Archive for January, 2009

How to Pick a Peach: The Search for Flavor from Farm to Table by Russ Parsons

This book was so good, I couldn’t put it down! I recommended it to my mom and my mother-in-law. It is so detailed and interesting, and tells exactly how to get the very best produce from the grocery store! I can face the fact that a lot of people are “armchair gardeners”–they like the idea of gardening but don’t want to put in the effort. This book is great for them because they can still use the knowledge to get great flavor out of the store.

It also reinforces the idea of eating seasonally. I love this idea so much, and the very purity of it has been corrupted by our culture of importing all the produce we can get. But when your tastebuds get used to it, they will reject anything made with seasonally opposite ingredients. [The best example is when my mom made pumpkin lasagna with both pumpkin and zucchini. Zucchini is great during the summer; pumpkin during the winter. They don’t go together, see? So the lasagna wasn’t very tasty.]

And the recipes in this book are excellent, too! The one I’ve been dying to try so far has been the Pear Clafouti w/ Pistachio Topping. Yum!

The only question remaining is: is this a gardening book or a cook book? Or merely an agricultural book with recipes?


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I ordered my tomato and pepper seeds today from tomatogrowers.com. Sweet. Should be coming via regular post, so I might have them within a week if they ship right away.
This was my final order from them:
  • Siletz (red),
  • Lime Green Salad (green),
  • Carbon (black),
  • Grushovka (pink paste).
  • Romanian Rainbow (bell),
  • purple jalapeno, and
  • sonora (anaheim).
Yes, purple jalapenos! That’ll be so pretty! And it was only mildly painful to give up Opalka. But what do I need two kinds of paste tomatoes for? And I could use the saved space for more of something else.
I think I’ve decided to plant corn this year also, though have yet to find room for everything. It’s just that I was very disappointed with the corn we bought last year—it was way too sweet and lacking in any corn flavor. But a book I just read was great at describing the different kinds of corn and what to buy, etc. Plus the Burpee seed is only $3 for the packet. Very tempting!

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Seed Order

I made out my list for my seed order last night. Boy-ee it is long and adds up to about $200 plus s/h. Now I have to really think about each item on the list and see if I can forgo some things. Maybe I can wait until next year or see about getting seeds in person (which is always cheaper). I also looked through my saved seed and found a packet of daisy seeds, so that’ll save me $5 off my order. Burpee’s also raised their prices over last year and so all the items I want are about $7 more expensive this year—which is another reason I might not want to wait to order some things.
I also want to save seed from as many things as I can—last year I saved seed from arugula and watermelon. I could have also saved seed from the mustard, but the other lettuces didn’t make seed before I pulled them. I won’t be getting any hybrids! I must be careful about reading descriptions to make sure—if it is a hybrid they should tell you so.
If last frost is April 20th, then I need to have seeds in hand at least 4 weeks earlier, so I need to order no later than March 1st? Well, I hope to order earlier than that still because I’m getting live plants and don’t want them to sell out. Last time I got them 10 days after ordering.

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Recipe: Winter Kale Soup

This is a very delicious, savory Italian-inspired recipe. It is great during the winter. To prepare the kale, wash and dry by patting with a towel. Remove the ribs from the leaf and discard. Chop the leaves into 1″ pieces. Set aside until needed. Leaving the skins on the potato retains all the fiber and most of the nutrition of this staple vegetable.

5 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup dry milk
2 medium potatoes, diced
4 cups chopped kale (about one bunch)
1/2 lb italian sausage
3/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp italian seasonings

Saute the sausage in a  pan and drain. In a large soup pot or dutch oven, combine the broth and dry milk and start to heat. Dice the potatoes into 1/4″ cubes, leaving the skin on. Then add the potato and sausage to the soup. Add the seasonings. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer for 20-30 mins or until the potato is cooked. Add the chopped kale, and stir. Bring back to a simmer for another 15 minutes.

Directions for a Slow Cooker:
Combine all ingredients except the dry milk and kale in the crock. Turn on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours or so. Do not add milk powder or kale until one hour prior to serving. If you add the dry milk earlier, it will curdle in the crock–very unattractive.

Serves 6

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Winter composting

I got my Burpee’s catalog!

I’m still “composting” which means I’m piling up Chessie’s litter and my meager kitchen scraps in the bin. It’s starting to add up to a lot and is mostly browns—I’ll have to get some more greens somewhere, but as I’m hoping to have less weeds this year I don’t know where I’ll get any from.

I’m starting to think about gardening more often despite the frigid temps and foot of snow on the ground. Even today I’m making a soup that requires kale and am thinking I should go ahead and get the ornamental kale seeds cause the plant is pretty and useful. And not get the brussels sprouts cause I will use those a lot less and can just buy some when I want—it’s more practical use of space to get stuff I can both use regularly and freeze for later use. Brussels sprouts are a side dish—not an ingredient in other dishes. So I’ll stick with stuff that I can cook with, not just stuff that you eat by itself.

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